In his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” Nicholas Carr explains how hyperlinks alter our experience of media: “links don’t just point us to related or supplemental works; they propel us towards them.”
This came to mind as I was reflecting on my recent move from Amazon’s device to Apple’s. The Kindle is a wonderful ebook reader, it’s easy on the eyes, works in the sun and incredibly light. However, the “tumble sensitive” e-ink display eventually caused a move to apple’s tablet.
Moving from a single purpose device to a multipurpose one is more than just getting used to the quirks of iOS. Now, I can also receive email on my iPad. Now, I can actually google references and quotes in other locations. The deep immersion in a book that I felt with the kindle now requires much more discipline.
To emphasise: In a 2001 study, two Canadian scholars asked seventy people to read “The Demon Lover,” a short story by the modernist writer Elizabeth Bowen. One group read the story in a traditional linear-text format; a second group read a version with links, as you’d find on a Web page. The hypertext readers took longer to read the story, yet in subsequent interviews they also reported more confusion and uncertainty about what they had read. Three-quarters of them said that they had difficulty following the text, while only one in ten of the linear-text readers reported such problems. (source).
It is all about exercising maturity and patience – if you are reading a book, read a book. Turning the wi-fi helps the weak-willed as well. Switching over to the web, videos etc – that’s a different form of entertainment – so keep that in mind.
I still manage to consume a hefty amount of books in a month, so it’s all good. Also – the backlight rocks. However – you have to work for the same total immersion experience you get from e-ink, or actual ink.